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Mingo: Loss and Grief and Celebrating the Life and Work of a Service Dog

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

It was with many, many tears and broken hearts that my wife and I sent our angelic Golden Retriever, "Mingo," to the bridge this morning. She fought a valiant battle against kidney failure of unknown origin but in the end, we couldn’t let her continue to suffer. Mingo was a Certified Service Dog who worked with both physical and psychiatric disabilities. She gave birth to 3 litters of pups, 25 in all, who are all over the world working to help the disabled, and for the last 4 years she was the world’s best Delta Society Registered Therapy Dog and "PAWS" to READ dog. Up until 2 weeks ago she went to an elementary school with my wife every Friday to work with two children who had trouble focusing – with Mingo curled up beside them, they each read her a 21 page story and then retold it to her in their own words, just in case she missed some of the parts! On Thursdays, she went to Exempla Hospital to help teach 2 developmentally disabled teenagers how to train service dogs…and with Mingo on the end of the leash, it really was easy!

Mingo was often my "Co Therapist" when I worked with phobic, frightened and depressed people in my office. She would lies across the laps of these patients, allowing them to stroke her as much as they wanted, allowing them to feel calm and relaxed. She literally taught them to reduce their fears so that they could function in the real world. More than one of these people then purchased their own dogs, had them trained and learned to negotiate the world with a minimum of interference from their fears. It is no exaggeration for me to report that Mingo helped give back lives to many patients.

Over the last few days as friends and patients came to say goodbye to her, a sick and wobbly Mingo would get out of her bed and come to them, burying her soft furry head in their laps, giving comfort to others, even as she was dying. This was an extraordinary dog with an extraordinary spirit!

We talk about grief and how to handle it. In my deep sense of loss of Mingo I remind myself of how fortunate I was to have her as a friend and companion and how lucky I am for her to have been in my life.

If you have any questions about Service Dogs or Psychiatric Support Dogs, please address them to me, Dr. Schwartz, as comments under this memorial article are at my E. Mail link to be found as part of all the articles I have written.

Keep Reading By Author Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.
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